In Defense of Ace Frehley's New Solo Album
The drugs and booze sure did a number on Ace Frehley's face, I remember thinking as I was watching him play alongside the Roots during a recent airing of the Tonight Show.
Entertainment One Music Spaceman cometh.
See, I was a KISS fan growing up, and don't think there's any shame in that. (For the record, I'm younger than 40.) Frehley was the on-again/off-again lead guitarist of the group. When I became a KISS fan, for a brief moment in my childhood anyway, it wasn't because I was into their music. I was into the theater of it all: the face paint, the blood and smoke, the characters, that movie, and especially the tin lunch boxes. It was all terrible and fun at the same time.
Just to really take in how cheesy KISS was, you have to see one of their classic lunchbox images -- the ones with the Destroyer album cover. It shows the rock-and-roll action figures jumping in the air, looking like some cartoon Kabuki actors. Some of those 1977 vintage lunch boxes can fetch close to $100 on eBay, though.
But for those who aren't satisfied with the faded glory of memorabilia, there's always Ace. The 63-year-old founding member of KISS was probably the only true musician in the group anyway. His latest album, Space Invader, has gotten some decent reviews, and even debuted in Billboard's Top 10 this week. But it's anything but the post-glam anthem rock of KISS. And based on what critics are saying, it's not even as bad as the group's slouchy comeback material of the late 1990s.
Space Invader brings the aging granddad rocker back into the spotlight, right where he probably deserved to be. Nowhere near the best group of their day, KISS was way campy, and Frehley arguably helped elevate their brand when he was a member. His latest set of songs, though, is a Valentine built for fans of rock's halcyon days.
KISS released their first album 40 years ago this year, and in April the four original members were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Sure, they were pissed it took so long, so much so that head honchos Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley didn't want to perform at the ceremony, which in itself caused a little static. But Frehley, even with his minority stake in the KISS brand, seems to have come out on top anyway, at least musically speaking.
Frehley originally left KISS in 1982, rejoined them in 1996 and did three tours through the early 2000s. Maybe they weren't that great when you think of solid classic-rock groups, but their arena shows touched a lot of lives.
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